Monday, March 13, 2017

Akira Kurosawa: 白痴 / 'The Idiot' (1951)

What we have left to see is about half of Akira Kurosawa's orginal epic cut of 白痴 / The Idiot (1951), based on the hefty novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky first published in complete book form in 1874. As is, Kurosawa's film conveys the mood, atmosphere and existential thickets of the Russian original through a Japanese scrim.   
Even cut in half, The Idiot still works, provided one is willing to employ a little imagination to help fill in the gaps. The gist remains. Here, the title character (Masayuki Mori), suffering from post traumatic stress (thanks to his wartime experiences), has the thousand yard stare; Denkichi Akama (Toshiro Mifune) burns holes into his best frenemy with an equally mystified stare.   
Enter Taeko Nasu (Setsuko Hara) and Ayako (Yoshiko Kuga) into a four-way staring contest. Note Toshiro Mifune on the left, a clear prototype for spaghetti Western characters in his look, well emulated by Clint Eastwood in the 1960s.

In the previous post, Charles asked about a biography of Kurosawa. There are these two books, neither of which I've read yet. But they look good.

Peter Cowie, Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema (Rizzoli, 2010).

Donald Richie, The Films of Akira Kurosawa: Third Edition, Expanded and Updated (University of California Press, 1999). 

Today's Rune: Protection. 

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I need to catch up on my Russian authors.